Slide #DMS 093 [Autonomic (sympathetic) ganglion]. The autonomic nervous system is motor in function, supplying smooth muscle, heart muscle and glands. It usually consists of a two neuron chain. It is classified according to the cells of origin in the CNS as the thoraco-lumbar (sympathetic) or craniosacral (parasympathetic) division. The ganglia of thoraco-lumbar (sympathetic) outflow compose the sympathetic chain, para- or pre-vertebral ganglia of gross anatomy. Cells in these ganglia send long processes to the organ supplied. The ganglia of the craniosacral (parasympathetic) division lie either near the organ supplied (e.g., ciliary, otic, sphenopalatine, or submaxillary ganglia) or on or in the substance of the organ supplied (e.g., Auerbach's myenteric plexus) and hence have short postganglionic processes.

This slide shows a sympathetic ganglia. Study the sympathetic ganglia with respect to the distribution of cells and fibers, position of nucleus, shape of the nerve cell body and continuity of the cellular capsule enclosing the nerve cell bodies. Review the gross anatomical positions of these ganglia and their gray and white rami connections to spinal nerves.

How would you distinguish this from a spinal ganglion? Notice that the nerve cellbodies are not particularly grouped in clumps, and that satellite cells do not form very well-defined capsules. Several of these autonomic neurons contain yellow lipochrome granules (lipofuscin), though these are not necessarily always diagnostic. On the whole, autonomic neurons are smaller that the sensory neurons of spinal ganglia. Where are sympathetic ganglia located in the body? Where do the axons of these cell bodies terminate?

This is a low power view of a section through a large autonomic (sympathetic) ganglion. An abundance of large, post-ganglionic neuron cell bodies is found amidst their nerve fibers and those from the preganglionic neurons.

At this medium power, one may better resolve the numerous neuron cell bodies (in this case, multipolar neurons) as well as the more haphazardly arranged satellite cells surrounding them. A bundle of nerve fibers is running through the middle of this section, the nuclei there belonging to the associated Schwann cells (and the occasional fibroblast).

At high power, note the large neuron cell body, some of its surrounding satellite cells, and the Schwann cell nuclei associated with the nerve fibers entering or leaving this ganglion.